Alex Ferguson has come out and dismissed Manchester City as a small club, despite publicly criticising Rafa Benitez last season for making similar comments about Everton a few years ago.
But despite his latest example of ‘one rule for me, one rule for everyone else’, does he actually have a point? What does constitute a big club?
I think there are 4 major criteria for being or becoming a big club.
Obviously the more money a club has, the better calibre of player it can afford to buy and the more wages it has to offer. Also you can look upon finance in terms of expanding the stadium, overseas marketing and merchandise sales.
However, finances alone do not make a big club, as Manchester City and QPR would by far be the biggest clubs in England if that were the case.
It stands to reason that the better your team, the more seats you fill in the stadium. The more seats you fill in the stadium, the more your board will be amenable to expanding the stadium so you can fit even more fans in. Also the more fans of your club, the more merchandise you sell, the more you club is enticing to potential investors and sponsors.
However, by fan support alone, Sunderland and Newcastle would be two of Englands biggest clubs so once again this alone is not enough.
Most of the clubs that are considered to be big clubs have a long and successful history of winning trophies. Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are prime examples of this.
Once again, you can’t judge a big club by this criterion alone, as Chelsea and Newcastle would not be classed as a big club, which is clearly not the case. Clubs like Nottingham Forest, Wolves and Ipswich have all tasted success on the continent but are not generally considered as big clubs.
By this I mean not only trophies won in the last 10 years or so, but also consistent high positions in the league and regular cup runs. I mean can Leeds United still be considered a big club despite languishing in League One?
Using Man City as an example, they obviously have excellent finances, great fan support as they drew big crowds even when they went down the divisions a few seasons ago, they do have a good history but are maybe lacking a bit when it comes to recent success.
I think you do have to consider Manchester City to be a big club. Indeed, I’d consider any club that fulfilled 3 of the criteria I’ve come up with to be big clubs.
What do you think? Do you have criteria of your own?